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Month: October 2010

#Kindle post gets me on the radio (#BBC #Cumbria)

#Kindle post gets me on the radio (#BBC #Cumbria)

Well my post on Kindle’s hidden features certainly surprised me on the statistics front, what I didn’t expect was to appear on radio in part because of it…

Yesterday (27th October) I got phoned at work by a chap called John Bowness, who asked whether I would like to come on Mike Parr’s breakfast show on BBC Radio Cumbria, to talk about ‘ereaders’.  He said it would be at 7.45am this morning (28th October) and would last for 5 to 10 minutes.   He said Lucy Mangan a Guardian Columnist would be talking about how she didn’t approve of ereaders and I would be there in defence of them.   It was amusing to be asked whether my Kindle made noises so that it could be heard on radio!   Unfortunatley it doesn’t make beeps and I thought it unwise to mention the text to speech feature… (not exactly its best selling point)

These lifts are never working… (source Google)

He said he had found me by typing in “ereader cumbria” in Google and my blog GeoPlanIT came up top of the list (try it and let me know if it works for you!).  So okay looking at the post that comes up its actually a link for downloading this site for an ereader (check it out here).   However I don’t think I would be so prominently listed in google if it weren’t so popular my original Kindle post, combined with my activities on twitter.

My first instinct was to say no, those of you who know me will understand I’m not that shy and am somewhat outgoing.   However I can assure you I go weak at the knees at the thought of public speaking!   Then a little voice in my head said “why not, you don’t get the chance to go on radio everyday”  this time the little voices in my head won out.

The lifts didn’t work then either

Fortunately I was somewhat prepared for my appearance thanks to a friend of mine Matt Deegan who works in the radio industry.  His calm reassurance in the form of an email was much appreciated.

So this morning I went to BBC Radio Cumbria in Carlisle with my wife and 16 month old daughter (moral support in reception).   We had to take the detour from the Castle carpark as pushchairs and that bridge don’t work!

You can listen to it here:
My 6-7 minutes of fame on BBC Radio Cumbria (1hour 18 minutes in)

So barring my hopeless performance (hey its my first time), I was surprised that there was no discussion, I thought that’s what Lucy was there for and the whole thing went by so quickly I was out of the building as before I knew it and struggling to cross Castle Way in Carlisle (I think they’ve given up on those elevators on the bridge)…

Good luck going 100% internet!

One last thing I noticed: I was on directly after the owner of Fluffy Bums, who are located next door to BBC Cumbria and it’s where we got our daughters reusable nappies from.

It’s a shame they are closing down the shop and going 100% internet as we always enjoy going in and getting our ‘poop’ related supplies!  They’re helpful and always chatty and friendly I hope that ethos continues online.

So there you go a meaningless blog post but I hope you found it slightly interesting.  For those of you interested some related links are below.

Updated: I added the bit about Fluffy Bums… later on the 28th October 2010
    #UrbanDesign & #Planning: Making the rules up as I go along (via #CityEngine)

    #UrbanDesign & #Planning: Making the rules up as I go along (via #CityEngine)

    Now to get those rules sorted out ….

    Just a quick update on what I’m up to…

    With the latest release of CityEngine I’ve come back and downloaded the trial to have another go after my previous attempt left me a little stumped.

    Well this time round I’m looking seriously at using CityEngine as part of our work flow.   I see real potential for it to change how we go about creating urban area plans as well as presenting them at the end.

    The main problem for small firms like the one I work for (Garsdale Design Limited) is time.   Time spent laying out new urban areas to fit in with population projections and Planning Standards (if that’s how you want to do it).   Larger firms have more resources to pull in to work on the repetitive tasks, but as a smaller firm we don’t have that luxury.

    What could happen here is to take the mundane part of the job and allow for creativity to be focused on key areas/spaces and buildings whilst knowing that the street and residential layouts with appropriate servicing are all being done automatically, based on our special rule book!

    CityEngine doesn’t do everything but you do have full control for example, it allows you to drag your street network and rebuild plots automatically and on the fly…

    So how am I doing this time around? Much better, the interface has I think improved and it feels less buggy.  I’d still like to see more clearly laid out manual and tutorials, but I guess all this is easier if you come from a programming back ground.

    For Examples of CityEngine’s potential in planning have a look at their showcases:

    Creating #ArcGIS #Maps for the #Kindle 3

    Creating #ArcGIS #Maps for the #Kindle 3

    A6 seems good…

    Well just out of curiosity I thought I’d see if I could create some maps using ArcGIS’ PDF export ability to make maps for use on my Kindle.  

    The ‘ease of use’ of the Kindle combined with the method of updating content (email to device) and availability of Kindle software on many devices might make it a good method of getting information to people…
    I certainly think e-readers in general are a good method for distributing policy documents from governments (see previous post).   I would have loved to have my authority’s local plan on one of these…. (but then I am a geek)
    1. Step one was to figure out a reasonable template size for viewing as a PDF on the Kindle without having to zoom in.   Papersize A6 seems reasonable…
    2. Next step is to come up with a proper grey-scale palette…
    You can Zoom in as its a standard PDF

    It turns out its relatively easy to do, perhaps people could make suggestions as to the method of choosing a greyscale palette? (I’m looking at you @PetersonGIS)

    Updated 26th October 2010: 

    The Kindle 3s reported screen specification is as follows:

    “Amazon’s 6″ diagonal electronic paper display, optimised with proprietary waveform and font technology, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level grey scale.” Source: Amazon UK

    Site Notice: All comments will now be moderated

    Site Notice: All comments will now be moderated

    Just a quick post to notify everyone, that I’ve decided to moderate all comments from now on.   As my site has got a little more popular (hurrah!) I’ve started to get some undesirable comments and spam posts (not everything is caught by bloggers spam filter).  I’m not offended I just need to tighten the admin side of things for the site

    I will aim to approve all comments within a day, rest assured I will read and where possible reply to all!

    Thank you that is all….

    Using a #Kindle and interested in UK legislation and policy?

    Using a #Kindle and interested in UK legislation and policy?

    Struggling to justify your new toy?

    You may be interested in this post if you are a Planner, Architect or someone interested in policy and legislation in the UK and owns a Kindle!    Otherwise you may just be interested in ways to convert PDFs for your Kindle.   Please note that this is for PDF documents that are mainly text, I’m not sure PDFs of scanned documents will work that well…. (if at all)

    As most UK policy documents and legislation can be obtained online as a PDF I’ve found a quick and easy way to convert them to a format the Kindle can read.

    First download your favourite policy/legislation document from here for example: DCLG Planning Policy

    Go to and download Mobipocket Creator

    1. Install Mobipocket Creator for advanced users (this is what I did)
    2. Load up Creator 
    3. Once loaded under the heading “Import from existing file” click on Adobe PDF
    4. Choose your PDF file and an output location
    5. The next screen you can more information and add a cover page (hint pictures from the PDF are stored in its own directory).
    6. Once you’ve done this click on “Build”
    7. The new file for the Kindle should a Kindle Content filetype (in Windows 7 with Kindle for PC installed it is).
    8. Plugin your Kindle via USB and drag and drop this new file into the “documents” folder

    I wonder if I can get some nice maps on it….

    Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features : Part 2 Technical stuff

    Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features : Part 2 Technical stuff

    Following on the back of my last post I have found some more hidden features/functions for the Kindle 3.   As before please be careful using these, I’ve looked at them myself and had no problems.  That doesn’t mean you should do it though, if you are anyway unsure please don’t use these.   That is all!

    Okay these little functions bring up some information on your Kindle, they’re not hugely useful as I’m not as what one might call a ‘hacker’ (I’m just a bit geeky) but I like to know what else my Kindle can do.

    Navigate to the Settings screen on your Kindle (Menu – Settings, from the home screen):

    1. “Switching Wireless Providers”: type 311 (ALT+EQQ) – I’ve not said okay on this so you try at your own risk!
    2. 411 Page (serial Number MAC address etc): ALT+RQQ
    3. 611 Page (Modem, SIM and Network details) : ALT+YQQ
    4. 711 Page (Connection, Wi-fi and IP):  ALT+UQQ
    From the home screen
    • Serial and Barcode displayed: ALT+SHIFT+. (period)
    Bonus! Using the experimental web browser, when the page you are viewing is bigger than the screen (e.g, BBC full site and zoomed in).
    • ALT+J scroll right
    • ALT+H scroll left
    That’s it for now, hope you are all still enjoying your Kindle 3!
    My little #Kindle Hidden Feature post and some statistics…

    My little #Kindle Hidden Feature post and some statistics…

    I thought I might write a quick post after what I thought was a pretty limited interest piece on my Kindle.  Okay it was about some hidden features, but really I wasn’t expecting this.  I thought a quick summary of my website statistics was in order.

    So up until yesterday my most popular post was this one :
    HP DesignJet 500 and Windows 7: Yes it does work even without the HPGL2 card!
    It had about 420 pageviews in its life time (I keep getting comments on this post, which is nice).

    Now my post yesterday :
    Kindle 3 some hidden features
    This got over 4500 pageviews, yesterday alone.

    All I can say is wow, I thought this was a bit odd so I did some checking…. I have a “who’s among us” (see bottom of page) counter and had a look earlier today at the history:

    As you can see at the height of yesterdays visitations I had 114 visitors on my site at one stage.
    Now I know that statistics for websites aren’t an exact science, but I guess this post hit some interest nerve in people (and hit the right website listings!).   I do have referral information and it seemed traffic came from some ‘technical’ sites and news boards.   I also saw that if you type in “kindle 3 hidden” in Google this site is third on the list, hurrah!

    Well that’s it, I just thought it was interesting to see how the correct content can drive visitors to your site.   A big thank you to all those who visited and left comments, it’s really appreciated!  I hope future posts of mine can be deemed as interesting and of value to people.